Battle lines are drawn to defend Petworth plan

Latest consultation on Petworth Neighbourhood plan at the Leconfield Hall, Petworth Market Square. Pic Steve Robards  SR1617110
Latest consultation on Petworth Neighbourhood plan at the Leconfield Hall, Petworth Market Square. Pic Steve Robards SR1617110

Petworth campaigners are preparing to fight a major housing plan which flies in the face of its new Neighbourhood Plan (NP).

The plan submitted by West Sussex County Council for 34 new homes, next to the Rotherlea care home, was given the go-ahead by the South Downs National Park’s planning committee despite the fact it broke ten clauses in the town’s plan.

The NP stipulated a maximum of 23 homes on the site and wanted any development held back until a housing site further south was built to relieve traffic congestion.

Furious town council chairman Chris Kemp said the decision was a ‘violation’ of the town’s NP.

Now the town council has asked the secretary of state to call in the planning application for Rotherlea so a government planning inspector can re-examine it with reference to Petworth’s NP housing policies.

Town councillors are appealing for the backing of townspeople.

They have asked people to contact Petworth MP Nick Herbert at the House of Commons or email him on nick@nickherbert.com or contact the case officer for the secretary of state, Christopher Bazley-Rose, at Christopher.Bazley-Rose@communities.gov.uk

In a message on Facebook town councillors said: “South Downs National Park Planning Authority granted planning consent which was totally against the NP, which we all voted for in the referendum on June 7.

“We can’t fight this on our own, your town needs you – you need to write/email/ facebook these people to let them know you support the town council in their defence of our NP.

“It’s starting with Rotherlea already and we need it to stop before it goes any further with other developments within the town.

“This affects everyone in the community, not just where the housing has been proposed.”

Supporting the campaign on Facebook, former town councillor Judy Howard said: “To have encouraged communities to set up NPs, at a considerable cost, implying they have legal standing, and then to ignore them is morally wrong. The national park planning department is allowing and disallowing plans to suit itself with no evidence of following guidelines or logic.”

Lorraine Cooke added: “ Well done for doing this! Will send an e mail... we’ve all got to do it, or there’s no point in a NP.”